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ISB YLP: How I Made It To India's Best Deferred Program

Updated: Mar 15

ISB is one of the foremost names when it comes to business education in India. The Young Leaders Program (YLP), which provides a deferred admit to their flagship PGP, has gained a lot of attention over the last years due to its exciting approach towards the applications, and for the host of benefits it provides the aspirants.

We sat down with Abhinav Ravi, who shares his experiences of applying to ISB through their Young Leaders Program, what it took to crack the admission process, and how it has helped him since.

Why did you apply for the ISB YLP?

I found out about the YLP program from a senior in college, who was the campus ambassador for the program. After doing some research, I realized it was an exceptional opportunity to try to secure an admit at arguably the country’s best B-school, which would give me immense freedom in the early stages of my career (which it has). I had been planning to give the GMAT at some stage during my time in college anyway, and this coincided nicely with those plans as well.

Another big advantage I had was applying for the program in my pre-final year itself. This way, even if I hadn’t made it through, I would have had another opportunity the next year to try again with new perspectives.

What were the aspects of the application process that you found most challenging?

I feel the first challenge was just coming to terms with how comprehensive and exhaustive the entire application was. A lot of undergraduate admission in India, including mine, is purely based on academic performance, so it was the first time I was coming across such a detailed application which asked me to analyze my own experiences in such detail.

Building on that, it became clear to me that preparing my essays and resume would require a significant amount of introspection and story-boarding, so that I could clearly communicate my interests and ambitions. As college students, we aren’t expected to have our entire career planned out to the finest detail, but it is very important to have some clarity on what interests you, why you want to do it, and perhaps most importantly, how the YLP will enable you to do it.


What was your approach towards the GMAT?

Although the YLP application is truly holistic and does not depend only on any one factor, there’s no denying the fact that a strong GMAT score gives weight to your application. I, unfortunately, started my preparations quite late due to some other commitments and gave my test 2 months from the day I first saw a GMAT book. It certainly wasn’t ideal but I was fortunately able to get a pretty strong score of 730 which I was happy with.

For anyone preparing for Stage 2 of the application, I’d strongly recommend starting your GMAT preparation as early as possible, and being consistent with it. I’d also like to emphasize the importance of doing full-length mock-tests because a lot of people underestimate how challenging it is to maintain concentration over a period of 3-4 hours, and mocks go a long way in helping with this.

Can you briefly describe your interview experience?

My interview was conducted at the Hyderabad campus, which really is a stunning location. It was conducted by a panel of three alumni, and took around 30 minutes. The atmosphere of my interview was very relaxed and was more of a conversation. The panel asked about my interests and hobbies and all the activities I had done in college. However I also had friends whose interviews involved a lot of technical questions on finance and other topics.

I believe the tone of the interview is determined heavily by how you present yourself. My entire application was filled with extracurricular activities and programs in collaborative environments, and my career ambitions were also broader. The friends of mine who were asked specific questions were ones who had strongly emphasised an interest in particular finance fields, which is why they were questioned about those more intently.


Have you had any experiences with ISB since securing your admit in 2017?

Yes I have! One of the best parts of getting an ISB admit as a YLP is getting to visit both the campuses over a two-year period for Learning Weekends. These are weekend long trips where we are invited on campus for a host of events, sessions, and lectures. We get to meet many students from the current batch, in addition to professors, members of staff, and student body representatives. The networking opportunities at these weekends are priceless and you already build a group of friends and peers over these two years, who you’ll be studying with when you finally join the program.

Any final words of advice for current YLP applicants?

I think the most important part of the application is to be authentic. As a college student, you aren’t expected to have worked 3 internships, been a student body president, and topped your university all at the same time.

In my case, I was very passionate about student activities in college and that’s where I dedicated all my time. I had never done any internships, and I didn’t try to get one done before Stage 2 just to have work experience on my resume. My college activities were at the forefront of my essays, and resume, and that’s what the school assessed me on.

Just stick to what really matters to you, and do your best to express it throughout your application.


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